The Most Important Thing About Your Email that Everyone Forgets

When is comes to sending emails to subscribers, everyone always talks about one thing - the subject line.

People say it’s the first thing subscribers see, the most important part of any email - not unlike the headline to a blog post.

But...is it true?

Could there be something that’s even more important than the subject line? And if so, what is it?

Let me give you a hint - 73% of people decided whether or not to mark an email as spam and/or hit delete based on this one tiny detail. 

The one tiny (yet impactful) detail?

The email “from” line.

To: _____, From: _____.

It’s true. What you decide to put in the “from” line of your emails makes a much bigger difference than you might think.

While you shouldn’t ever neglect the subject line - because that’s important too - the “from” line can be the final deciding factor or reason why someone chooses to read or trash your email.

And it’s becoming increasingly more important as our culture shifts to mobile devices for Internet access and email checking.

The most important thing about your emails that everyone forgets... 

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The Mobile Difference

Think about the last time you checked your email on your phone. Space is limited due to the smaller screen, so often times the subject line is cut off halfway through.

But, what’s the first, most prominent, listed-in-bold-font item that you see?

The “from” line.

And research shows us that if the reader doesn’t recognize the name in the “from” line of an email, they are much more likely to delete it instead of opening it or even saving it to read later on a desktop.

People only like to open emails from sources that they know they can trust, and if they don’t immediately recognize the name in the “from” line, well, it’s likely that email won’t ever see the light of day.

Plus, with more than half of all emails being opened and read on mobile devices, it’s no wonder that the “from” line plays such an important role in email open rates

Could there be something that’s even more important than the subject line?

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Why Are From Lines So Important?

But besides the email-mobile connection, why else are “from” lines so important? Well, let’s take a look. From lines have the power to: 

  • Create Immediate Recognition - Most people don’t read every email in their inbox. Instead, they scan through the list for emails and names that they recognize. If you want your email to be read, you need to make sure that your name is one that they immediately remember.
  • Establish Trust with Reader - In order to build a relationship with your readers, you need to first establish trust. By always using a recognizable name when sending emails, you begin to establish that trust and start to build a more personal relationship with readers. They are interacting with you not just a nameless company somewhere.
  • Be Easier on Short Attention Spans - Going back to the scanning of the inboxes, people have short attention spans and a lot of things on their mind. Make reading your emails easy on them by using a name that they recognize. 
  • Provide an Instant Spam/Commercial “Flag” - People receive so many emails on a daily basis that inboxes tend to be flooded with a mix of spam and/or commercial type messages, along with social media notifications. Your “from” line is what will make your email stand out to readers in a sea of spam and irrelevant update messages.
  • Work Well with ISPs - ISPs like Gmail tend to filter out junk mail in inboxes based on an algorithm that looks at whether or not the sender of an email is an actual contact of the receiver. Using a legitimate name in the “from” line can only help your case here.
  • Be Harder To Cut Off - Subject lines often get cut off after 8-10 characters on mobile devices, but, since “from” lines are generally just a name, you’re pretty much guaranteed that the entire thing will make it onto the screen and be read.

What you decide to put in the “from” line of your emails makes a much bigger difference than you might think.

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How To Do It Right

Obviously, “from” lines are important and play a large role in whether or not an email actually gets opened. But now what? Is there a right way to write a “from” line?

Truthfully, there’s not really much ‘writing’ involved in the “from” line since there isn't much space available for excess words. However, there are definitely a few things that can really help to make your “from” line stand out, including using:

  • Your Name - If your personal name is what people connect with your company, then go ahead and use this in the “from” line.
  • The Name of Your Company’s CEO - Have a CEO who plays an active role with customers? Use his or her name to increase trust and recognition.
  • Your Company Name - A company name that’s widely known might get more opens than a personal name that isn’t.
  • The Name of Each Subscriber’s Account Manager - Do you have specific account managers assigned to different customers? Use their names when sending emails to those customers so they will be immediately recognized and opened.
  • Your Brand Name - Same thing as with the company name - sometimes a brand name has more authority than a personal name.

In the end, it really just depends on what is going to be most recognizable to your readers. If, for example, your brand name is largely recognized but no one really knows much about the CEO, using the brand name in the “from” line instead of the CEO’s is probably going to yield better results.

Sometimes this is all a bit hit or miss, and some trial and error might be involved at the beginning to really figure out what works best for you and your company.

What makes “from” lines so important to email open rates?

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But - a word of caution. While it’s a good thing to test different “from” lines, try to find one that works well and stick with it for awhile. Changing the “from” line too frequently can cause your readers to stop recognizing who the email is coming from, which in turn destroys any trust you’ve built up with them and causes your emails to remain unopened.

The best thing to do is find what works best for your company and stick with it for awhile. As readers become more accustomed to receiving your emails, they’ll start recognizing and opening them much more quickly.

The “from” line really does play an important role in email communication - don’t forget about it!

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About the Author

Nicknamed the ‘female David Ogilvy’, Sue Rice is famous for her exquisite writing skills and strategic savvy. A native Californian and Stanford University graduate, she launched her career on Madison Avenue in the 90s and eventually helped run BBDO Europe in Paris as their Communications Director. Now a 7-figure entrepreneur, Sue helps businesses create high-quality content that attracts clients, builds brands and skyrockets sales.